Fairness of Marion County's 911 board questioned

Fairness of Marion County's 911 board questioned

April 3rd, 2013 by Ryan Lewis in Local Regional News

Kimball City Attorney and Marion County Attorney Billy Gouger

Photo by Ryan Lewis

Marion County Commissioner Gene Hargis

Photo by Ben Benton/Times Free Press.

JASPER, Tenn. - One Marion County commissioner is questioning the equality of district representation across the nine members of the county's 911 board.

Commissioner Jody Rollins said he wants to know how the 911 board was chosen, because he doesn't think the county's 2nd district is represented well.

"There's not but one representative from the second district on it, and some of the districts have three or four members," he said.

County Mayor John Graham said Rollins had "a valid point."

The Marion County Commission recently appointed Lester Roberts and Ryan Meeks to the 911 board, but neither is from District 2.

Rollins said some other 911 board members' terms should have expired by now, since it has been at least four years since the County Commission has appointed anyone.

"It's probably been longer than that," County Attorney Billy Gouger said. "We did discuss that at the last 911 board meeting. By law, they are supposed to be on staggered four-year terms so you always have some continuity on the board."

Officials will have to go back through the county commission's minutes to find out when different terms began, he said.

Finding willing candidates to serve on the various committees the county is required to maintain can be difficult since, by law, members cannot be compensated for their time or travel expenses, officials said.

County Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett, who oversees the 911 board, said Roberts and Meeks approached him about serving as members.

"It's hard to get folks who serve on these boards to even come to meetings," Commissioner Gene Hargis said. "We appoint a lot of people to a lot of boards and they never show up but for one or two meetings. I think that's some of the problem."

Gouger said the two members of the 911 board that were replaced last week are prime examples of that.

"I've been doing the 911 board for about two years, and I only recall one of those two individuals coming to one meeting in two years," he said. "The other one I've never met. That gives you some idea of the problem."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.